My name is Jessica Venter, I am 35 years old, happily married with two beautiful children. I am a very quiet and shy person because of what I have been through. From the outside I’m just an ordinary person, living life the best way I know how to, you see my smile, but you have no idea of the pain I’ve been through and the burdens I used to carry.  I usually keep to myself because I am afraid of people judging me. This is my testimony; my hope is that I will be able to help another struggling soul.

My parents got divorced when I was a baby. I didn’t know my dad well enough to have a father-daughter relationship with him. In a little girl’s heart, her daddy is everything, no matter what he has done. As I grew up, I saw a lot of things that proved me wrong about him. My dad was one of those men who could never keep a job, always stayed with family because he had nothing. He used to drink a lot and get violent and that was one of the reasons my parents got divorced in the first place. Thinking back, I have so many unpleasant memories about him. When I was about 14 years old, my father was drunk, and he tried to rape me, luckily, I managed to walk away without him doing anything. When I was 16, my father died.

At the tender age of 11, I was raped by a nephew. My mom never really helped me work through everything so, I blocked it out. Then I got married and had two beautiful children. Suddenly after all these years, all these memories came back. I started suffering from anxiety attacks and depression. Eventually I sought help from a counsellor, she helped me deal with all those emotions that I had never come to terms with. Throughout it all, my husband supported me.  I always loved my husband, but he had one problem…he drank so much. He never went to bars, instead he would work late and drink, come home drunk and when I confronted him about it he would get angry with me.

A few years ago, I tried helping a friend who was so much like my dad. I tried getting him professional help, but he saw this as an opportunity to use me. As I was vulnerable about my father, never having him around growing up, missing not having a dad, also with my husband and his drinking, this man and I had an affair. Let me tell you that he was one of those manipulators. Always using people for his own gain. He even tried breaking my hand, just for fun. Luckily only my nail broke off. I was on my way to get a divorce from my husband, when this guy decided I wasn’t good enough anymore and, lo and behold, he left me.

During that time my husband fought for me, he never gave up on us. He even stopped drinking. I have always been a child of God and even after all that I have done I know God has forgiven me. I went to a spiritual morning when I got the message that I must stay with my husband. I must keep on loving him even if I don’t feel anything. When I look back, I can see how the other man used me. He always wanted money, a real narcissist. That I realize now, he had all the traits. I am just so happy that I got away in time. After a few counselling appointments, I could see how I could fall for this guy so easily. He resembled my dad in so many ways and after all these years, the small girl inside my heart wanted nothing else than the love of her daddy; but he was not my dad, and he used this to his advantage.

Yes, I know many will judge me for what I have done. But I saw how God used all the bad and changed it to good. He has a plan for me. Like Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

In even the small detail, I can see how He saved me from a destructive life I would have had with the other man.

I even made peace with my nephew who raped me. I confronted him and he asked for forgiveness, of which I gave him in 2011 without him even knowing it. It was the only way to go on with my life. Forgiveness sets you free. After 14 years of using medication, I am completely free of depression. God helped me heal all the broken parts of my life and for that, I am forever grateful.